Studio Pepe’s Club Unseen embraces the rules of proper hospitality
Written by Cristina Belmonte
Tucked away in a former late 19th-century warehouse and guarded by Studio Pepe’s secret tattoo etiquette with ‘Member’s only’ rules of admission. Club Unseen was billed as one of the best kept secrets of this year’s Milan Design Week. The project-manifesto designed by the magic duo, Arianna Lelli Mami and Chiara Di Pinto, was a unique experiential itinerary of interior design, enhanced by the ritual of mixology. The avant-garde atmosphered club offered a few selected members an informal refuge away from the usually crowded events associated with the frantic week.
Club Unseen presented a cinematic tale where reality and dreams were masterfully staged between sartorial craftsmanship and digital content. Conceived as a multi- purpose environment where boundaries between residential, commercial and hospitality were virtually invisible, Club Unseen presented a simple, sophisticated and cutting-edge concept soon to be metamorphosized in a different location.
We can’t wait! In the meantime and mesmerized by its intense theatrical appeal, we couldn’t help but digging in and asking a few questions to Arianna and Chiara;
1) The design of Club Unseen exudes spontaneity, a remarkable sense of form, and a playful understanding of architecture and design principles. In your opinion, what were the key elements to make this project a successful experience? Do you consider the search for perfection a burden?
Club Unseen, was successful because it was an exclusive shelter from the hectic context of the Fuori Salone, a secret club that represents the quiet and give space to creativity: a place with a relaxed and casual atmosphere, in which an innovative interpretation of hospitality emerges clearly to the senses and to the heart.
One of the central features of the Club is an installation on the preparation of cocktails, created to put the accent on the gestures of the mixologist. In this way, the bar becomes a stage at which to enact the art of “made by hand” through a theatrical horizontal opening that frames the hands of the bartender and the phases of the preparation.
Perfection is never a burden, it’s more like personal achievement.
2) Your projects are extremely well suited for the Instagram world, however your work embodies a deep intellectual exercise beyond its aesthetics, almost like a deep anthropological study. What are the deep ideas behind Club Unseen?
Club Unseen tells its tale by comparison between the contemporary world and memory, sartorial craftsmanship and digital content, public and private, in a unique, surprising signature set piece where the different forms of contemporary social interaction, from personalization to authenticity of experience, all the way to the bond with the city, are interpreted through the design of an exclusive place to be shared with others.
3) How do you convey design ideas in a modern language? What does signify ‘modern’ for you?
Modern is something that has made with honest materials, that last over the years and after many years you still love it because its aesthetics. It is not something that has followed a trend but relates directly with archetypes.
4) Studio Pepe is well-known for combining ideas and atmospheres with magical results. What are the essential elements to create unexpected and engaging atmospheres?
Our projects are eclectic: we combine the themes of common memory to a particular unexpected, and one of our strength is, in fact, the use of color, sometimes bold, sometimes used in an unusual way as breaking element, as the unparalleled but harmonious mix between the materials chosen.
5) In what sense did the Radical Period influenced the design? Is Club Unseen a subtle critique of the absurdities behind the over-exploited state of the design world – and more specific – of the Milan Design Week?
With it’s Avant-garde environments and cinematic atmospheres, an immersion in a sophisticated creative imagination, typical from the Radical Period.
No, we don’t do that kind of statement, we prefer to explore the connection between the project and the city, more than create a “subtle critique”.
6) Do you see the incorporation of technology as an evolution of your sensorial experiences search? How does it add to the story?
In Club Unseen, technology allowed members to interact with the project, discover more product information but always with an artistic and emotional approach. Technology is necessary in todays approach, but we always interpret it in a delicate way, it must exist, but you don’t need to see it all the time.
7) Getting hold of a tattoo to visit Club Unseen during the Milan Design Week was a virtually impossible task. Where did it come the idea of making this an exclusive experience? Did you find this a successful approach?
In an event like Fuori Salone – increasingly connected and dense with input – we felt the necessity to create a place “to be” and feel relaxed, that’s how Club Unseen journey started. The members of the Club enjoyed an exclusive and informal refuge in which to find a convivial dimension of discovery, away from the usual crowded itineraries, in keeping with the rules of proper hospitality. That’s why it was so successful.
One of the central features of the Club is an installation on the preparation of cocktails, created to put the accent on the gestures of the mixologist.
“Perfection is never a burden, it’s more like personal achievement”